Quinton Coples joined the New York Jets to a chorus of jeers from fans gathered at Radio City Music Hall for the National Football League draft.
Coples, a 21-year-old defensive end from the University of North Carolina, was booed for not being Melvin Ingram, a defensive end from the University of South Carolina, after fans chanted Ingram’s name while awaiting the Jets’ selection.
“They’re definitely passionate,” Coples said of the fans at a news conference.
Jets fans have a long history of being disappointed with their team’s draft choices. A video called “NY Jets Draft Blunders” has more than one million hits on YouTube. Most recently, Vernon Gholston, a defensive end from Ohio State picked sixth in 2008, was released after three seasons.
Coples notched 17.5 sacks in his final two college seasons. At the NFL’s pre-draft combine he ran 40 yards in 4.78 seconds and recorded a 31.5-inch vertical leap. Analysts have criticized him for inconsistent effort, with the NFL Network’s Mike Mayock telling the Charlotte Observer “buyer beware.”
Jets coach Rex Ryan called Coples physically gifted and compared him with Shaun Ellis, a former New York defensive end now with the New England Patriots. Ryan said Coples would have an easier transition to the professional ranks than Gholston, who changed positions after joining the Jets.
Coples is the second consecutive defensive lineman the Jets have chosen in the draft’s first round. Last year, New York got Temple’s Muhammad Wilkerson with the 30th pick. Wilkerson, who played on a high school team with Coples, finished the season with 49 tackles, a safety and three sacks.
Coples and Wilkerson
“Quinton and Muhammad will both cause production,” Ryan said. “They’re just those types of guys.”
Coples said Wilkerson had promised to “take me under his wing” and called being picked by the Jets “a blessing from God.”
“I knew coach Ryan had promised me that, if we got to that pick and I was still there, he was definitely going to pick me and I’m just thankful he is a man of his word,” Coples said in a conference call with reporters.
The San Diego Chargers took Ingram two picks after the Jets selected Coples.
“I’m going to do great for the Jets,” Coples said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Aaron Kuriloff in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org.